City crackdown on illegal e-cigarettes

An investigation by Liverpool trading standards officers has found a number of retailers selling illegal e-cigarettes and vaping products and they are planning a New Year crackdown. Tony McDonough reports

A number of retailers in Liverpool are selling illegal vaping products



Trading standards officers in Liverpool are to spearhead a New Year crackdown against retailer selling illegal e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Government tightly regulates vaping products to control the amount of nicotine available and have to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

They should contain no more than 2% nicotine.

They should also hold no more than 2ml of liquid, equivalent to 600 puffs or a packet of cigarettes. However, in a recent test purchasing exercise across the city to check on compliance, officers were able to buy illegal products at 74 retailers. Some contained up to 3,500 puffs, almost six times above the legal limit.

Now they are offering the retail trade the opportunity to contact trading standards for advice on their products with the proviso that compliance visits will be carried out in the New Year and any illegal products still on sale will be seized.

The council have also been receiving a large number of complaints over the sale of these products to children and is asking parents with information and evidence to contact them. Cllr Abdul Qadir, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “E-cigarettes and vaping products are seen by many people as a way of giving up smoking.

“Our worrying research shows that people are unknowingly exposing themselves to far more nicotine than they would from using cigarettes, meaning they are even worse for their health.

“Our advice to people buying these products is to always check that the packaging has all of the appropriate warnings on it so that they can be confident they are not exposing themselves to far greater levels of toxic substances than is allowed under the law.”

Vaping products and e-cigarettes are strictly regulated by Government


Each packet and any container pack must state: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.” The health warning must:

  • Appear on both the front and back surfaces of the unit packet and any container pack.
  • Cover 30% of the area of each of those surfaces.
  • Be in black Helvetica bold type on a white background.
  • Be in a large font size in the centre of the surface area.

In addition:

  • E-cigarette tanks should have a capacity of no more than 2ml you’ve spelt millilitres out in full above.
  • Refills should be limited to 10ml.
  • E-liquids should have a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml.
  • Packaging and containers should be child-resistant and tamper evident.
  • Colourings, caffeine and taurine are not allowed.
  • Contain details of the UK importer for traceability and the European Community Identification (ECID) number showing authentication by MHRA.

Cllr Qadir added: “We are also going to be carrying out enforcement operations early in the New Year, so it is really important that retailers check they are buying legal stock  they will find themselves out of pocket if we have to seize illegal products, and could be liable for prosecution.

“We will also be making sure that they are only selling to people over the age of 18 as we are aware of concern from parents that they are being sold to children.”

More information and an online form to let trading standards know of any illegal sales is available by clicking here. Or you can email trading standards –

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